As the first Black bachelorette, should Rachel Lindsay be expected to give a Black man her final rose? Not if he isn’t her best match.
On Tuesday, Rachel sent six suitors packing for various reasons. It was like a Bachelorette fire sale–everyone must go! In the process, four of the five remaining Black men on The Bachelorette were dismissed. Some people felt a way about that.
From the start of the season, she’s caught side-eye for her choices as she kept Lucas around for a couple of episodes. (Don’t even get me started on how she sent Blake K. home on the first night. WTF?!) Among the criticisms about Rachel’s choices is the accusation that she seems to favor White men, even though her suitor pool had plenty of eligible Black men.
Before I go any further, let’s just acknowledge that producers did not set Black men up to win on this show. While this season seems more diverse than others, the numbers show that the odds were never really in favor of Rachel picking a Black man. Of the 31 original suitors, there were only 11 Black men–that’s about 1/3 of the actual cast. Based on those numbers alone, Rachel is statistically more likely to pick a non-Black bachelor from the available men.
Outside of the show, though, Rachel admitted that she is more likely to date Black men. In fact, she told Will that most of her exes are Black. It’s even fairly common knowledge that Rachel dated Kevin Durant at one point.
The same could not be said of Will, who revealed that he usually dates White women. He even said it to Rachel’s face when she asked about his type. Again: when asked about the qualities he likes in a woman, he immediately went to race.
It isn’t a shock that Black men date interracially. Being open to all the possibilities isn’t a bad thing, but to outright say that White women are your preference is super problematic–especially when you’re on a show, competing for a Black woman’s affections! Maybe that preference is part of why Rachel felt that Will wasn’t particularly attracted to her on their date.
I would contend that if Will really does prefer White women, Rachel was 100 percent right to dismiss him. She’d have spent the rest of their relationship wondering if he was actually attracted to her. Who needs that recipe for insecurity and relationship drama?
That said, Rachel had high hopes for Will (as did I). She had really wanted to keep him around, and they would have made a cute couple. Ultimately, though, she had to send him home and she was incredibly disappointed to have to make that decision. Rachel didn’t cut Will because based on race, it was because something was genuinely off about their connection.
In fact, that’s the reason most of the Black men that made it past the first night were dismissed. Every time Rachel started vibing with a Black man on the show, something would go wrong. It was like clockwork! DeMario’s on-again, off-again girlfriend popped up during a group date. Josiah was too busy flattering her to actually get to know her. She couldn’t get past her childhood impression of Fred, and it killed their chemistry. Her connection with Kenny needed more time to develop, but the time away from his daughter was taking too much of toll on him.
Rachel had valid reasons to let go of these guys, and it had nothing to do with them being Black. Neither was she advancing White men because she prefers to date out.
To suggest that Rachel focus solely on picking a Black man regardless of their level of compatibility with her is a ridiculous expectation. It ultimately does her and them a disservice. For Rachel, the point of being on the show is to find her husband, so she has to go for the emotional and personality traits that are going to work for her. Rachel has to make sure she’s compatible with who these men are on the inside, or any relationship that results from this season is going to go down in flames.
Dating as a Black woman is tough as it is. We’re constantly fighting against stereotypes about us when looking for a partner. We face rejection from our own men based on race, but we’re still expected to only ever be with Black men, no matter what the cost (that’s up to and including infidelity and abuse). On top of that, we’re pressured to disregard our standards in the interest of simply having a man lest we run the risk of being single. Conversely, we’re expected to remain single until we can secure a Black man–even if a man of a different race might be better suited for us as an individual. In dating, Black women are never expected to put their needs first when looking for a partner.
As the first Black bachelorette, Rachel is acutely aware of the pressures on her. She’s aware of the expectations. However, her top priority is finding a good mate. If the best man for her isn’t Black, so be it.
Besides only one man can get the final rose. As the only Black man left standing, Eric’s chances of winning her heart are as good as anyone’s.